Client experience is crucial. From the initial sell to retention, we must create an unforgettable experience for our clients. If you want to stay in this game it’s more important than ever to set the standard. You must set yourself apart and the only way to do that is to deliver a world class training experience. It’s not enough to design “stellar” programs. In all honesty, our clients rarely care about the program as much as we like to think they do. It really does come down to how they feel when they enter and leave your presence.

Experience begins with self-awareness

A clients experience starts with you! If you aren’t capable of motivating yourself you will never be able to motivate someone else. You must be in a constant state of self-awareness. As coaches, our clients want to look up to us and this means we must set a personal fitness standard. Not taking care of yourself decreases your self-awareness, isn’t motivating to your clients, decreases your energy level, how you coach, and more importantly it’s bad for your brand!

Know what they want; give them what they need

People are miserable and now more than any time in history we have an opportunity to change that. From the time they decided to take action to actually contacting you and walking through the doors of the facility, there is a ton of hesitation. They often come to us with preconceived notions of what they think they want or what training with a coach is like. Be intentional and wise enough to know what they want, however be smart enough to give them what you know they need.

First session, first impression

You must be open and welcoming. Ask about them and any previous training experiences; what they like and dislike. They must always leave the first session feeling successful. High-fives, fist bumps, whatever it takes to let them know you are already proud of them. If you can make this first session a success you are well on your way to winning them over.


If you’re the one talking, you’re the one losing. Remember that our training time with clients is a precious commodity. Giving your client 100% uninterrupted attention is crucial. You must constantly learn about them, and you must know when to stop talking. Get to know them by asking them questions about themselves, their families, work and anything else they seem to light up about.

For most clients the time they spend with their coach is the most focused attention they will receive in their day. Don’t take this responsibility lightly. No phone, no interruptions, no exceptions.

Smart progression

Early on you must be cognizant of when to progress the difficulty of their training program. It’s important to save the more difficult stuff for later. Once you really know their physical abilities and their psychological capabilities you can more effectively progress them. Let us be honest, none of us really know someone’s capacity for training after one assessment. This takes time and if we crush their bodies the first day we could potentially crush their spirits. We don’t want them to hate working out even more than before. The goal is to make them feel so amazing that they can’t wait to come back. Ethically it is your job to do what’s best for them, not what you think makes you look awesome. It’s not about you, it’s about them.

How you do one thing is how you do everything

Keep that gym clean! Dirty training facilities are one of the most common reasons clients leave. Keeping your training space clean is an absolute non-negotiable. When clients see that you take pride in your space it automatically translates to how you will treat them. Remember how you do one thing is how you do everything.

Teach, learn, measure and celebrate

It’s not enough to be self-aware with a clean space. As coaches we must constantly educate ourselves and surround ourselves with others who believe that learning is necessary. It is impossible to continually create that wow experience if we aren’t educated enough to know what we are doing. Don’t spend time teaching them everything you know. Teach them enough to keep them safe and curious. Having a means of measurement matters and will give your program validity. Make sure your training systems are in place. You don’t have to recreate the wheel but it is imperative that you take maniacal notes. Your notes are not only movements and data, but they will serve you in remembering things about your client that you can later ask about. Celebrate the wins and make a big deal out of every goal they accomplish. Bottom line is, take care of them. They must leave your presence better than when they came in – no exceptions, ever.

Make it last

Creating lasting relationships is key to both their success and yours. Our society has become so self-serving it doesn’t take much to set you apart as “that coach who really cares,” but you have to actually care. You must take a vested interest in their personal life. You don’t have to go too deep in the beginning, but know what matters to them. Simple things like a handwritten note go a long way. Go out of your way to remember anniversaries, birthdays and other important dates. Use these dates to go the extra thoughtful mile to let your clients know they matter. Don’t just say happy anniversary, find out where they are having dinner, call ahead and pay for their wine or dessert. In our industry we have an amazing opportunity to really touch lives and if we do it right it will impact more than our clients; we can impact their families and friends as well.

Any trainer can help someone lose a few pounds but if you want to change someone’s life you need to create lasting relationships. In most situations you will spend more time with your clients than anyone else; make it your primary focus to inspire them. Creating an experience like no other for your clients ensures your long-term success, and theirs.

Brandi Binkley is owner and operator of PhysioFit Nashville. She has been an exercise physiologist for over 15 years. Her company specializes in exercise prescription and active wellness development for both the individual and the corporate setting. She is the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s 2015 Personal Trainer of the Year.